New Steelers TE Darnell Washington ‘Strikes Out’ on Jersey Request

Darnell Washington celebrates a play.

The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped the numbers of their 2023 rookie class on May 3, 2023. One jersey number we knew. No. 24 was leaked on May 2 by proud dad Joey Porter Sr. in a group chat that included former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. The other we hoped we knew, as tight end Darnell Washington (and Steelers Nation) lobbied Mike Tomlin permission to wear zero.

But it’s generally known that team owner and president Art Rooney II does not permit the use of No. 1-9 by any positions other than quarterbacks, kickers and punters — even though the NFL changed the policy to extend it to most position groups in 2021 (somehow, someway linebacker Melvin Ingram got away with wearing No. 8 that season). In March 2023, the league included zero as an eligible uniform number. Players will be switching to the big oh this season, but, sadly, Washington will not be one of them.

“Darnell Washington strikes out in his quest to wear No. 0,” ESPN’s Brooke Pryor tweeted after the team’s announcement. He previously wore the number at Georgia.

And, so, Washington could be stuck with No. 80.

But don’t go pre-ordering your favorite rookie’s jersey just yet. In the rundown on, an asterisk notes that more than half the rookie class isn’t settled on their numbers. Defensive back Cory Trice Jr. (No. 27), linebacker Nick Herbig (No. 51), offensive lineman Spencer Anderson (No. 74), Washington and defensive lineman Keeanu Benton (No. 95) are tentatively switching digits once rosters are reduced from 90 to 53 in August and more numbers become available.

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